Berkeley, California (EastBayDaily) — Moving to another country can be overwhelming, especially when there are visas involved, a currency to adjust to, and a new language to learn. It’s because of these reasons that many North Americans find themselves drawn to Belize, a country that boasts more than a tropical climate, beautiful scenery, and multiculturalism—it also offers many similarities to daily life in North America. Primarily English-speaking and roughly the size of Massachusetts, Belize has much to offer retirees, students, teachers, and those just looking for a change of pace.
Moon Living Abroad in Belize author Victoria Day-Wilson has lived in both Kenya and the UK, but she fell in love with life in Belize and discovered the transition was smoother than she expected when she made the move. Here she offers her top reasons why Belize is one of the easiest countries to relocate to:
1. No language barriers There’s no need to learn a new language. English is the official language of Belize and most of the population speaks it, as it is compulsory for all children to learn English in school. Spanish is also spoken, but expats can get by without it.
2. Familiar laws and government The legal system is based on British Common law, which is the foundation of American law. The government is a democratic parliamentary model.
3. Simple immigration Getting in and out of Belize is easy; there are no hard and fast commitments required. A “tourist visa” only needs to be renewed once a month for US $25. After a year, expats have the option to become residents. This gives travelers the chance to give Belize a test drive without too much red tape or financial commitment.
4. Easy currency The Belizean dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar at BZ $2 to US $1, and both currencies are in free circulation. Therefore, there is no real adjustment required to a new currency.
5. Duty-free imports The government has made retirement in Belize an attractive option by introducing the Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) program. Participants can earn an income outside Belize tax-free and import personal effects to the value of US $15,000 (including means of transportation) tax- and duty-free.
6. Friendly, welcoming people Belizeans are some of the friendliest people on Earth and make everyone feel welcome.
7. Low taxes and supportive investment options There is no capital gains tax and no inheritance tax. QRPs are exempt from income tax. Property taxes are around the one percent mark. To avoid income taxes, the government has created the Belizean International Business Corporation (IBC) law which allows participants to transfer income and assets to an IBC from which dividends are not taxable.
8. Proximity to North America Only a two-hour flight from Miami, Belize is easily accessible from the United States. Just below Mexico, next to Guatemala, and bordered by the Caribbean, Belize is also a great base for traveling to the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America.
For more information on life in Belize, or more detailed tips and advice on moving, visit the Moon Travel Guides website or check out this interview with Victoria Day-Wilson.
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About Moon Travel Guides & Moon.com Moon Travel Guides make independent travel and outdoor exploration fun and accessible. With expert writers delivering a mix of honest insight, first-rate strategic advice, and an essential dose of humor, Moon guidebooks ensure that travelers have an uncommon and entirely satisfying travel experience. Moon Travel Guides not only guide, they inspire. Based in Berkeley, Calif., Moon is published by Avalon Travel, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Visit Moon at http://www.moon.com.